More About The Best Smoking Woods

More About The Best Smoking Woods

One of the most asked questions about smoking in order to get amazing backyard barbeque is, “What is the best wood for smoking meat?” The answer answer is that it depends on what you prefer. Because different woods impart different flavors, there are no hard and fast rules.

Since there are no concrete answers to the question of which wood is best, here is a guide to explain some of the woods most commonly used for smoking meat. If you’re starting from scratch or are wondering about new ways to expand your meat smoking repertoire, I hope you will find this to be a handy reference. Of course, uniqueness and perfection can only be found through experimentation.

You might even want to consider keeping a written record of your experimenting and results for future reference.

The basic rule of thumb is to use the heavier hardwoods like oak, hickory or mesquite for smoking heavier meats such as beef and pork. Use the lighterhardwoods like that from fruit trees, maple and nut-bearing woods for smoking lighter meats like fish and poultry. Some of the fun in doing your own backyard barbeque is when you start experimenting with mixing small amounts of the lighter woods to accent the flavors of your heavier meats and vice-versa.

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So Which Wood Chunks to Use?

WESTERN 78055 Hickory Cooking Wood Chunks

I don’t know about anybody else, but it has been my experience that in order to get amazing backyard barbeque, not only do you need low and slow, but the wood that produces the smoke flavor is of major importance. The big question then becomes, what wood is best?

For me and my wife, being from the Southwest, we prefer the flavor that hickory and mesquite imparts into our pork and poultry. I have experimented with both wood chips and chunks and depending on what I am smoking dictates whether I use chunks or chips.

When I am smoking beef ribs, pork or chicken, don’t be surprised to find me using a combination of hickory, I prefer the bags of Western 78055 Hickory Cooking Wood Chunks and mesquite. These woods are suppose to impart a stronger flavor than other kinds of hardwood. Being from the Southwest, hickory and mesquite is abundant and could well be why professional as well as they backyard smoker uses these woods. Now that we live in the Mid-Atlantic states, it seems that oak and a few other hardwoods are the predominate woods for smoking.

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My Next Backyard Barbeque Smoker

Char-Broil - CB Offset Smoker 1280

I am looking into what kind of backyard smoker I am going to get before next season. Right now I think I have it narrowed down to a couple of units.

First, I am looking at the Char-Broil CB Offset Smoker 1280. I think I want an offset smoker and this unit looks like it just might suit my needs for both my love of smoking and my wife’s love of grilling and at around $213, this definitely fit our budget.

According to the descriptions I have found on this unit, it is 43″ long and around 21″ wide, which give me plenty of room to pack in lots of different meats at one time. With a cooking area of 670 square inches along with a 355 square inch swing away cooking rack, that should give the wife plenty of area to grill for her family get-together’s.

Because it is an offset cooker, I can load it up with charcoal and/or my favorite wood for hopefully hours of low and slow cooking with lots of smoke. Since I can’t think of anything that taste better than juicy, fall off the bone meat with a nice smoke ring, I am thinking that an offset cooker might be the way to go.

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Delicious Backyard Barbeque Ribs

After success with my first attempt at smoking chicken, it was time to take on my next task. I absolutely love delicious backyard barbeque pork ribs so my wife picked a slab of spare ribs, trimmed them down and fixed up another batch of rub. Just FYI, she has been experimenting with her ingredients to get them just right.

While she was doing that, I got my cute little green smoker fired up and spitting smoke.

Once the wife had the ribs trimmed and relaxed after a good rub down, the ribs went on the smoker. I worked hard at trying to get and keep the temperature as close to 225° as I could keep it. For this smoke I used the oak sticks I had laying around the yard (we have lots of oak trees on the property – great for smoke, but a real pain in the fall when the leaves drop) and mesquite wood chips.

I still had not picked up a decent thermometer so I was doing this purely on the clock.

During the cooking process, I spritzed them from time to time with apple juice to make sure the ribs ended up being moist when they were finished. I had to replenish the charcoal and wood chips, I think, no less than 3 times and I ended up doing it wrong. Everything I had to replenish the charcoal, I ended up losing a lot of my heat and smoke.

After about 4 hours on the smoker, I thought the ribs should be done and took them out of the smoker. I was of the mind that if they weren’t cooked all the way through like they should be, the microwave would finish the job.

Anyway, once the ribs were taken from the smoker, they were allowed to rest for about half and hour before being served up for dinner. Once rested, the rack of ribs were divided up between myself and my wife. Once I got set down to eat, i took a good look at the ribs and they looked pretty good. The wife thought they had cooked long enough and I did see that it looked like they had a pretty decent smoke ring, which tickled me.

Upon tasting these pork ribs, it looks like I might have over-cooked them. Even spritzing them with apple juice, then tasted a bit dry and were a little on the chewy site. I have to admit that these were definitely some amazing backyard barbequed ribs. I loved the smoke flavor and ate like a pig. The wife isn’t a big fan of ribs so her only input was that the ribs tasted good and she could taste the smoke. Personally, I think she was just trying to be polite.

Since ribs are my favor smoked meat thus far so I will be stocking up on more slabs of ribs and I guess I will need to keep a few chickens around so my supportive wife doesn’t have to starve while I pig out on ribs. I also did some investigating to determine what I did wrong that caused the ribs to be slightly over-cooked. As expensive as meat is getting these days, I can’t afford to make too many more mistakes.

Well, for a first attempt at trying to produce some amazing backyard barbequed ribs, I don’t think I did all that bad. The taste was getting pretty close to what I was looking for. The wife’s rub and barbecue sauce are coming along nicely which really makes for some delicious backyard barbeque.

And as my pursuit of the perfect barbecue combination of juicy, fall off the bone ribs, a tasty rub recipe that makes my wife happy and a killer bbq sauce with just the right amount of kick continues, I think maybe it is time to look into a different smoker rig.